Kim vs. the Mean Girl is FREE!!

Happy Sunday!

This is a quickie post to announce the exciting news that KIM VS. THE MEAN GIRL is FREE on Amazon and will remain at that low (can’t get any lower unless I PAID you to buy it) price through Thursday, December 14th.

KIM VS. THE MEAN GIRL is my only contemporary YA novel, but it’s also related to my adult romantic comedy BLOGGER GIRL series in that it features many of the same characters, but in high school—in the fall of 2000! This is before Facebook and smart phones. It’s retro!

For what it’s worth, my parents AND my sister told me this is their favorite of all my books. They said it’s adorable, clever, funny, and charming. My mom also used the word “brilliant.”

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These guys LOVE Kim vs. the Mean Girl!!

You should see for yourself. Did I mention it’s FREE?

FREE

Real Chick Lit for…Young Adults?

Now that I’ve completed the heavy lifting with respect to my upcoming novel, Novelista Girl, I can take a break from writing. Right? Wrong! I’ve already begun my next project—a prequel to the Blogger Girl and Novelista Girl series. I took a slight genre leap when I wrote How Do You Know? as it was somewhat deeper in themes than my previous novels and more contemporary women’s fiction than classic “chick lit,” but I was still dealing with grown-up characters (maturity levels notwithstanding)! In my new project, I’m bringing Kimberly Long and part of the gang from Blogger Girl back to the tenth grade which sets the book squarely in the Young Adult genre—quite a genre jump. The novel is already close to seventy pages and while I am truly having a blast with it, it is not without its challenges. For instance:

  1. I’m writing this novel from the first person perspective like I did with my last five novels. (Can we stop and take a moment to let that phrase sink in? My last FIVE novels. I’ve written five novels. Holy crap! I’m still astounded that I wrote one! Ok, pause over.) However, unlike my other (FIVE) novels, I am writing this one from the perspectives of two (very) different characters. Although I know the character of Kim very well, having written two other novels with her at the helm, this time, I’m getting inside the head of high school “mean girl” Hannah Marshak. She’s not that bad. She’s not that good either but…just wait. So far, I’m not having any trouble keeping their voices distinct, but alternating back and forth is not always a smooth transition.
  2. Anyone who has read even one of my books knows that my characters do their best bonding over wine, prosecco, beer etc. Since my characters are now fifteen-years old, I need to come up with different ways for them to drown their sorrows, share their secrets etc. So far, eating ice cream and plotting revenge are working well. But no spoilers.
  3. My characters in the past have also liked to curse and have sex. A curse word slips in every so often in this novel, but not as freely. And my characters’ sexual experience is limited compared to their curiosity. One of the reasons I took them back to fifteen instead of seventeen or even sixteen was because I wasn’t comfortable bringing sex into the equation. My characters are definitely more Gilmore Girls than Gossip Girl.11170312_1069995196347139_787521516213843014_o
  4. If you’ve noticed, all of my characters until now have worked in the law firm environment. I have two paralegals, a legal secretary, and a legal marketing manager under my belt. Unless I was planning to write a Doogie Howser-type prequel where Kim was a fifteen-year-old legal secretary, the law-firm setting wasn’t going to work. So, the setting is high school. Being that I haven’t been in high school in over twenty years (almost as scary as the fact that I’ve written five books), I had to wrack my memory (and search the internet) to remember there were eight periods in a day and each period lasted forty-something minutes. I even searched trigonometry and earth science terms to make the classroom scenes authentic.
  5. With the exception of Just Friends with Benefits, all of my novels take place in New York City. It’s become part of my brand. It’s weird to not describe the bustling restaurants, and tourists-filled streets of the Big Apple, but since Kim grew up outside of the city, I have to write the prequel with a suburban setting. So far, most of the scenes have taken place either within the walls of the high school, or Kim and Hannah’s respective houses.
  6. Since this was a prequel set fifteen years in the past, I obviously couldn’t write the book in the present day. Since Kim would be turning thirty in 2015, I set the book in 2000 to make her 15. I had no idea what it was like to be a teenager in the year 2000 since I was already in my late twenties (another scary fact). Thankfully, I have several younger friends who were generous enough to share some of their memories from back then—their favorite books, movies, televisions shows, celebrity crushes, fashion preferences etc. They also guided me with respect to technology and lack thereof, although watching back-to-back episodes of Gilmore Girls is also helping in that regard. But it’s a very interesting writing a book where no one checks his/her iPhone or is on Facebook. I quite like it!
  7. Parents, particularly mothers, have always played a significant role in my books. However, none of my characters lived under the same roof as her parents during the course of the book. The parents might have bestowed advice (solicited or not), but they never imposed a curfew or were needed to chauffer my characters to and from their friend’s houses, the mall or the movies. Remembering to include family dinners and typical teenage angst with respect to parents is something I’m not used to, but remember all too well from experience.

Thus far, the above are the differences that spring to mind when comparing my process of writing a chick lit/women’s fiction novel to writing young adult. What’s interesting is that my reading preferences have shifted somewhat along with the writing of this book. I still love reading women’s fiction and chick lit (as well as suspense novels and thrillers), but I’m definitely reading a lot more young adult lately as well. I devoured Jenny Han’s To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You books, re-read The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell (also a prequel to a women’s fiction novel), and have already pre-ordered Rainbow Rowell’s upcoming novel. I’m also quite addicted to the aforementioned Gilmore Girls on television. It has become the light to the darkness of The Walking Dead, which is another addiction of mine and decidedly not young adult!

carriediaries

I will probably not be sharing too much more about the prequel at least until after Novelista Girl is released, hopefully later this year. Stay tuned, however, for the blurb and cover reveal of Novelista Girl —coming soon.

back-to-school essentials!

The main character in my new release, Blogger Girl, is twenty-eight, however, with her ten year high school reunion looming and a request to review her high school nemesis’ book waiting in her email inbox, she’s been thinking a lot more about her high school days than she probably should. Promoting the book so much over the past few weeks got me thinking about my days in school as well, especially in light of the Labor Day Weekend. When I was younger, the first day of school was always the Wednesday after Labor Day and so this day always makes me think of the first day of school and a new start of sorts. I used to approach the first day of school with a mixture of excitement and anxiety: I wondered who would be in my classes, if my teachers would be nice, if I would make new friends and still get along with my old ones and if I would have a boyfriend. Although I knew even back then that much of this was out of my control, I always tried to prepare as best as I could for a good year. My mom would take me to get all of my school supplies, like a new backpack, notebooks for each of my classes, pens and pencils etc. She’d also take me clothes shopping. My mom and stepdad could not afford to buy me a new wardrobe each year but I would always get a few new outfits in the latest fashion to mix with the clothes from the year before. I would study magazines like Seventeen, Mademoiselle and Sassy to see what was in style and I would spend hours contemplating what to wear on the first day. For instance, should I wear my favorite new outfit right away or should I wear something “summery” if it was still warm out? I would agonize as if my entire year would be decided based on what I wore the first day.

All of my school photos!

All of my school photos!

I don’t go to school anymore but I still think of coming back to work after the long Labor Day Weekend as a new beginning. Like a high school girl preparing for her new year of school, I also prepare for a new beginning at work and in life in general. These are some of the things I do:

  1. Hair – I got my hair cut last week – just a trim of the length and the layers. Although I am not due for highlights for another six weeks or so, my stylist also applied a layer of toner to my hair to keep the color from getting brassy from so much time in the sun.
  2. New clothes – Ok, I haven’t actually done any clothes shopping lately but I have begun to compile my coupons from Macy’s, Banana Republic, Anne Taylor etc. I am just not ready to start buying colder weather clothes when I’m still wearing shorts, tank tops and sandals on the weekends. Besides, I’m not really sure what is in fashion. I don’t pay too much attention to trends and basically wear clothes I like that flatter my figure. I assume if the dresses, skirts etc. are on the hangers at popular stores, they must be somewhat fashionable. But I’m not a label whore with the exception of bags. I will admit to fantasizing about the Christian Louboutin shoes worn by the main character in Blogger Girl and if the book does well, I might treat myself to them at some point but probably not. While purchasing a pair would not leave me homeless, I’m not sure my desire for the shoes would outweigh the guilt I would feel for spending that much money on a pair of shoes that are probably incredibly uncomfortable.
  3. Exercise – I have a very good workout ethic and always have. I run between six and ten miles four to five times a week; I take a weekly spin class and I do the stair climber. I’ve never enjoyed lifting weights. I have never wanted to be extremely sculpted and would prefer to be soft and feminine but not flabby but I know that soft can quickly turn to flab if I am not careful. Because of that and because I know it is important to keep my bones strong as I get older, I added a twice weekly strength training plan to my workout several months ago but I have been slacking. The days that I skip my workout tend to be the days I planned to lift weights. Or if it is beautiful out, I skip the weight lifting to go for an extra run. With the new beginning, I am going to try hard to stick to the weight training!
  4. Mean Girls – Back in high school, I faced more than my share of mean girls. My history with mean girls actually dates back to Elementary School and continues through Junior High. I didn’t really come into contact with any mean girls in High School although some of my friends weren’t actually all that nice. I am a much stronger person now than I was back then and definitely do not have the patience for bitches and so I do not bother with anyone I see as potentially “mean” –I do not socialize with anyone I would categorize as mean and thankfully all of my colleagues are nice people. However, there is definitely a mean-spirited person haunting me and some of my author friends on Amazon and Goodreads. There is a member of Goodreads who has left a two star rating on almost all of our book pages on Goodreads. Now, I do not expect everyone to love my books and I have come to terms with my negative ratings (for the most part). I will never please everyone. However, this person’s profile is private so we cannot see anything about her. All we know from her profile is that she has left over 19,000 ratings (not a single written review) and her average rating is 1.98 stars. She bombed Blogger Girl with a two star rating practically the first day it was published which struck me as odd since she didn’t have much time to actually read it. And she had also rated A State of Jane and Just Friends with Benefits two stars. If she hates my writing so much, why read all of my books? Because she didn’t! Seriously, the likelihood that she read and hated 19,000 books would be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetic. I have a feeling this is the same person who has marked most of my positive reviews on Amazon as “unhelpful” and my handful of negative reviews as “helpful.” Obviously, I cannot make this person stop being a complete wench so instead I will focus on the fact that nothing she does can take away from the enjoyment others will experience from reading my books and hopefully I will get enough positive reviews that no one will even notice her stupid 2 star rating or care if my negative reviews are marked helpful. She cannot control my success as a writer so I will continue to do what I am doing. And hopefully, she will get some therapy because God knows she needs it.
  5. Organization – In school, I was infamous for my messy notebooks. There were always papers falling out of my binders and nothing was ever organized. A classmate actually took one of my binders home with her one weekend because she couldn’t take how messy it was. Flash forward twenty years and I am equally disorganized in the office. My desk is a complete mess. I know where everything is but anyone else trying to locate something might get buried under the loose papers which occupy my office space. My apartment, while clean, is usually untidy as well. I live in 500 square feet and there just is not enough room to put everything away without accruing clutter. Well, I took several hours yesterday and tidied up my apartment. I am going to try to keep up with it to avoid things getting out of hand. Wish me luck!
  6. Boys (men) I am currently single and so of course I would like to meet someone I like as “more than friend” who feels the same way about me and who is intelligent, funny, nice, attractive and, of course, available. I did have a date a couple of weeks ago and it was the first date I actually looked forward to since ending my last relationship earlier this year. I had met the guy before but this was our first “date.” It went well, or so I thought. He was nice, cute, interesting and we spent several hours talking and laughing. I was pretty certain he was into me especially when he asked if he could walk me home at the end of the date but he hasn’t called me again. Although the date was good, it was not a slam dunk. We met at 7:30 and by the time I went inside my apartment, it was past midnight. Never during our time together did my date ask if I was hungry or wanted something to eat. Had I known the date would go so long, I might have mentioned something to him but I did not want to presume we would spend that much time together and figured if we just had a drink, I could eat when I got home. About half-way through the date, around 9pm, my stomach was literally growling and when he went to the bathroom, I dipped my hand in the snack bowl the bartender had brought over to avoid biting my hand. I probably should have brought up dinner at that point but I didn’t. I had been up since 6:30, went to the gym, worked all day and then met him straight from work with only a yogurt for breakfast and a salad for lunch as my fuel. As much as I enjoyed talking to him, and I did, I was exhausted from an entire day of work and no food. While I drank two glasses of wine, it was over the course of four hours so instead of getting tipsy, I felt tired and dehydrated. He nursed his one drink and it took all the self-control I could muster not to gulp mine for some sustenance. Despite the hunger pains and the cotton mouth, I knew I wanted to see this guy again. He was cute, interesting and had a very “soothing” quality to him which relaxed me, but it was getting late, I had work the next day, had to pack for a weekend getaway and, in case I haven’t mentioned it, I was starving. When we finally left the bar, my date offered to walk me home. On the one hand, I was excited because I figured that meant he liked me and wanted to spend a bit more time with me and kiss me goodnight. On the other hand, I was starving and thought to myself, “would he think I was weird if I asked him to walk me to the pizza place?” I decided I was too embarrassed to stop for pizza and I led him straight back to my apartment where we continued to talk and laugh and talk and laugh and talk. Each time one conversation ended, another started and I just wanted him to say “I definitely want to do this again” and kiss me so that I could go home, eat something, pack and go to bed. But he did neither of those things. We both said we had a great time and it was on the tip of my tongue to say “I would like to do this again” but I couldn’t do it. I am not opposed to being the aggressive one when the situation calls for it and my ex will attest to the fact that if I hadn’t said to him “are you going to kiss me already?” the night we met, we probably would not have dated for the next year and a half. However, I couldn’t bring myself to do that this time. I was too tired and too hungry and just wanted my date to take the reins, adjust his balls and be the man. So, after hemming and hawing outside of my building for close to a half hour, I finally walked inside without a kiss or the promise of another date. I toyed with reaching out to him but I decided against it. If a guy likes me enough, he will do the asking. (And mom, if you are reading, this is my final answer and, no, I don’t want to talk about it!) If the guy in question is reading this, my message to you is that if you ask, I DO want to go out with you again. Just make sure you feed me (I promise not to order mutton…) and kiss me goodnight next time! Of course, it is entirely possible that the guy only went out with me in the hopes of getting laid and expected an offer to walk me home would come with an invitation to come inside. I didn’t get that vibe but I’m not all that good at reading men these days so who knows? In any event, I don’t roll that way. I like to get to know someone in a less rushed way. There would have to be an intense physical attraction/connection for me to take a guy home on a first date. God, why are men so presumptuous these days?  Hmm, maybe because women are so easy. Thanks to my female sisters for being sluts. *sarcasm” Shrugging off the negativity NOW. With new beginnings comes new hope that I will meet another man I’d like to date soon. 🙂

So there you have it – my “back -to-school” list. What is on your list?